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BISD teachers are not giving up the fight as layoff vote approac - 12 News KBMT and K-JAC. News, Weather and Sports for SE Texas

BISD teachers are not giving up the fight as layoff vote approaches

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BEAUMONT - The countdown is on for a vote that will determine the livelihoods of many in our community and have a profound effect on the area's economy.

On Thursday, the Beaumont Independent School District Board of Trustees will vote on a list of layoffs that could cost more than 200 employees, mostly teachers, their jobs.

Teachers and students are not stopping their fight to prevent the layoffs until that vote.  Wednesday afternoon, they staged a rally and a petition drive at Rogers Park.  It was organized by a group of In School Suspension, or ISS, teachers.

The teachers say Superintendent Timothy Chargois, Ed.D ignored a directive by the state conservator over BISD to first cut from the administration, but they say instead Chargois went after the ISS teachers, and they fear their dismissals will leave troubled students without proper supervision.

Teacher Jake Jett said, "It's going to create an environment where learning cannot take place, because we can't even guarantee the safety of our students."

There is also frustration that Chargois seems to be targeting the classroom.

Critics say he should consider cuts at the BISD police department. More than a decade before BISD created a police department, a 1995 report by the Texas Comptroller made this finding: "The district is considering the operation of an internal police department, yet we believe that the district has underestimated its projected cost figures. A more balanced deployment of security officers and peace officers could achieve the level of quality service and cost efficiencies being sought by the district."

This past year, the district spent almost double what it had budgeted for the police department. BISD recently hired more police officers, and their presence has become more visible especially in dealing with the media, and there's also a powerful presence at board meetings, seven officers at last Thursday's board meeting alone.

In addition to police, there are about 45 public safety officers assigned to facilities throughout the district.

BISD Police Chief Clydell Duncan was out of the office Wednesday and we could not reach him for comment. We also did not hear back from Chargois.

Another alternative to the layoffs that's been suggested is the consolidation or closing of schools with low enrollment numbers, like Austin and King Middle Schools.

However that could also generate controversy since almost $8 million in bond money was spent to renovate those two schools.
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